Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Salt, William

SALT, WILLIAM (1805–1863), the Staffordshire antiquary, born in 1805, was third son of John Stevenson Salt of 9 Russell Square, London, and Weeping Cross, West Staffordshire, a member of the firm of Stevenson Salt & Sons, bankers in Lombard Street. In due course he became a junior partner in that firm, his leisure hours being devoted to archæological pursuits. He became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and an active member of the Royal Society of Literature. At the reading-room of the British Museum he was a constant visitor, and he presented many valuable works to that institution. The only work he printed was ‘A List and Description of the Manuscript Copies of Erdeswicke's Survey of Staffordshire, which, after careful inquiry, have been traced in Public Libraries or Private Collections,’ sine loco aut anno, 1842–3. Only twenty copies of this work were issued in a separate form, but it was included in the 1844 edition of Harwood's ‘Erdeswicke,’ pp. lxxix–ci. Salt spent thirty years in the collection of books, pamphlets, maps, drawings, and manuscripts illustrative of the history of Staffordshire. Another of his undertakings was the proper alphabetical arrangement of wills in the probate office at Lichfield. This work was highly commended by Lord Romilly in a speech in the House of Lords. Late in life he married Miss H. Black, and he resided in Park Square East, Regent's Park, where he died on 6 Dec. 1863.

Salt's archæological collection was valued at 30,000l., and after his death was catalogued for sale by Messrs. Sotheby. Sufficient funds were, however, collected to secure it for the county, and in 1872 it was located at Stafford in a house purchased by Mrs. Salt at a cost of 2,000l. To provide for the proper keeping of the collection, and for the salary of a librarian, the county subscribed 6,217l., of which sum 2,000l. was contributed by Salt's nephew, Thomas Salt, M.P. The collection consists of more than seven thousand volumes, 2,300 deeds, eight or nine thousand drawings and engravings, with numerous autographs and other manuscripts; and it is being gradually augmented by appropriate donations.

In memory of him the ‘William Salt Archæological Society’ was established at Stafford, 17 Sept. 1879. Its object is the editing and printing of original documents relating to the county of Stafford, and it has published (1880–94) fifteen volumes of collections for a history of Staffordshire.

[Private information; Publ. of the William Salt Archæol. Soc. vol. i. pp. i–vii; Calvert's Hist. of Stafford (1886), p. 70; Examiner, 12 Dec. 1863, p. 796; Gent. Mag. 1864, i. 133; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 359, 378, 584, viii. 429, ix. 251; Simms's Bibl. Staffordiensis (1894), pp. 389, 390, 539; Proc. Soc. Antiq. 1st ser. ii. 216, 280, 299, iii. 29, 189, 235, 286, iv. 75, 2nd ser. ii. 394; Times, 9 Dec. 1863, p. 7, col. 6.]

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